Author Archives: dianeD_admin

photo of space heater

Use Space Heaters Properly to Avoid Problems

Space heaters can provide a boost of warmth in your home or office, but they can also causeSpace heater big problems if not used correctly.

Here’s some advice from the Electrical Safety Foundation International regarding space heaters:

– They should have the certification of an independent testing laboratory.

– Keep them 3 feet away from anything that can burn, such as paper, clothing, and rugs.

– Plug them directly into a wall outlet – not an extension cord or power strip, which could overload and cause a fire.

– Don’t plug any other electrical device into the same outlet as the heater.

– They should be turned off and unplugged at the end of the work day or whenever you leave the room.

– Keep them out of high traffic areas and doorways, where they might pose a tripping risk.

– Employers should have a written policy regarding space heaters, and educate employees about safe space heater practices.

Generac is announcing a safety recall

Generac is announcing a safety recall of certain GP15000 and GPl7500 portable generators. This recall is being undertaken in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada.

None of these moidels have been sold by Little Sparkie Electric, but some of our customers may own them.

The recall is being conducted to address a risk that the units may not vent adequately from the rollover valve. causing the gas tank to build excess pressure and expel fuel when opened, posing fire and burn hazards to customers. The affected model numbers are G0057341,G0057342, G0057351, G0057352, 005734R1, 005731R2, 005735R1, and 005735R2.

Generac will be offering customers a free repair kit to install a new rollover valve.

Check your electrical wiring when you spring forward

This Sunday we “spring ahead” with Daylight Saving Time. We frequently hear that this is a good time to check the battery in smoke detecters. It’s also a smart idea to check your electrical wires.

Wires from home electronics, with wires for routers, televisions, computers, printers etc. can end up in knots on the floor, and may even be stepped on! Use floor cord protectors if you have to run extension cords along the floors.

Also, make sure those cords aren’t frayed or damaged, which can be a fire hazard. And plug appliances and office equipment directly into the socket whenever possible.

If you have children, especially toddlers and babies, keep them away from potential hazard areas.  Use socket plug covers , keep wiring and cords out of their reach, and ensure they’re kept away from heaters and other appliances in use.

Generators a Smart Move as Hurricane Season’s Most Active Months Approach

Installing a generator or making sure your existing generator is operating at peak efficiancy is especially important as we approach September.

Although it has been a relatively slow start to hurricane season, with no major storms developing in the Atlantic, this is not unusual and we therefore cannot afford to let our guard down,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “This is especially important as we enter peak hurricane season —the next Ida or Sandy could still be lying in wait,” added Criswell,

“We’re just getting into the peak months of August through October for hurricane development, and we anticipate that more storms are on the way,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D.

For the 2022 hurricane season, NOAA is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence.

Thousands of Dollars in Costs

The cost of an extended power outage could cost thousands of dollars in spoiled food, frozen or burst pipes or flooded, moldy interiors and basements. Businesses could suffer even greater losses. Grocery stores, restaurants and other places that offer food will face the loss of their inventory. Electrical equipment can be damaged when power is lost and comes back if companies haven’t prevented electrical surges.

According to NOAA, the increased activity anticipated this hurricane season is attributed to several climate factors, including the ongoing La Niña that is likely to persist throughout the hurricane season, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds and an enhanced west African monsoon. An enhanced west African monsoon supports stronger African Easterly Waves, which seed many of the strongest and longest lived hurricanes during most seasons. The way in which climate change impacts the strength and frequency of tropical cyclones is a continuous area of study for NOAA scientists.

“Communities and families should prepare now for the remainder of what is still expected to be an active hurricane season,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Weather Service. “Ensure that you are ready to take action if a hurricane threatens your area by developing an evacuation plan and gathering hurricane supplies now, before a storm is bearing down on your community,” he added.

Need a new generator or is it time for your generator to be serviced?  Call us or fill out the Contact Us form on our website.  We’re the experts in Generac Generators!

Six Great Reasons to Use a Licensed Electrician

It’s tempting to hire a repair person to do the electrical work for that home improvement project. Heck, it seems like an easy job – why hire a more expensive electrical contractor when your repair person or Cousin Joe says he can do the work?

The saying “you get what you pay for” rings true when it comes to electrical work! Shoddy work can result in appliances not working properly, fuses and circuit breakers blowing, the need to rewire circuits and worst of all – fire hazards!

Here are six reasons why you should hire a licensed electrical contractor:

  1. We are licensed by the states of Maryland and Virginia, which have stringent training and experience standards. To become a master electrician (which I am in both states) you need up to seven years of experience and demonstrated skills.
  2. Licensed electricians in Maryland and Virginia are required to have a certain number of Continuing Educational Units (CEU’s) to renew their licenses. I take training from reputable local providers and read several trade publications every month to stay up to date.
  3. Because of our on-going training, we are up to date on city, county, and state electrical code Licensed contractors can pull permits and schedule the necessary inspections and approvals. The benefit of permits is that there’s no danger of having your project be out-of-code.
  4. We carry workers’ compensation as well as general liability and catastrophic event insurance. Your unlicensed Cousin Joe is not likely to have this insurance, which means YOU are liable for any injuries or damages on your property. It’s even possible your insurance company could deny claims.
  5. I am a factory-certified Generac generator technician, and, as required, I take training yearly to renew my technician certification.
  6. We’ve been in business for more than 15 years and have earned an excellent reputation in the communities we serve and the professional organizations to which we belong (the Frederick County and Mt. Airy Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Club, the Electric League of Maryland Inc., and the Electrical Generating Systems Association).

Contact Little Sparkie Electric for all your commercial, residential, and industrial electrical contracting and service needs!

EV charger

Electric Vehicle Sales Boom! Little Sparkie can Safely Install YOUR EV Charger!

Are you one of the thousands of Maryland residents that now has a plug-in electric vehicle (EV)? According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, the state has more than 25,000 electric vehicles registered. *

Frederick County boasts the third highest percentage of electric vehicles – .76% of all vehicles registered in the state – for a total of 1,953 vehicles, according to **

Before buying an EV, have a qualified electrician install a new, dedicated circuit for your EVEV charger charging device. Older home wiring may not be suitable for use with EV supply equipment.

Your electrician can best determine how to get the power from the breaker panel to the desired charger receptacle or hardwired unit location (your charger). Your professional will explore whether there is physical room and electrical capacity in the panel and what path the cable needs to take.

Next, depending on how much battery capacity your EV has, determine how fast  you want the batteries to charge. More batteries and/or those with greater capacity take longer to charge than those with fewer/lesser capacity.

Your electrician will then determine what amperage draw the unit is designed for, and whether it needs a neutral wire (which carries the circuit back to the original power source). This determines the wire size and whether the cable needs two wires or three.

 Residential chargers have three basic levels of charging speed:

  • Level 1 is any 120-volt receptacle. This generally takes all night or longer to charge, depending on the vehicle.
  • Level 2 is what most people want. It uses anywhere from a 40- to a 60-amp circuit, with a charge time of about five to seven hours. Some cars have a charging cable with a plug that needs a receptacle, while others have a hardwired wall unit to which the charging cable connects.
  • Level 3 charging delivers more power, faster – in a few minutes compared to hours. Given the high-voltage supply required for Level 3 charging (and the higher price point), they aren’t typically installed in residential locations. They’re much better suited as free-standing units in commercial locations that have an ample power supply.

We’ve installed dozens of electric vehicle chargers, and can advise you on the type of charger that best meets your needs and ensure a safe installation. Call or contact us today!

*As of September 2021
** Behind Montgomery County with 1.61% and Howard County with 1.52%

Seeking PT Generator Technician

We are seeking a generator maintenance technician for flexible PT work hours. Immediate need. Mechanical ability is a must. Generators are as much of a machine (like a car) as they are electrical and/or electronic appliances.

Mechanical and electrical experience are a plus, but work ethic and personality are more important. Willingness to learn is paramount. Will train theJoin our team right person.

Maturity and the ability to relate to customers are a must. Competitive wages commensurate with experience and competence. Non-stuffy work environment – we have fun on the job. Military veterans, auto mechanics, and semi- or totally-retired people who would enjoy a challenge and an opportunity to earn additional income are also encouraged to apply.

Please email your resume to [email protected].

photo of space heater

Space heaters can cause fires and electric shocks

Temperatures will dip below freezing next week, and you my be looking to a space heater to warm up your office. But those little heaters can cause big problems if not used correctly.
Here’s some advice from the Electrical Safety Foundation International regarding space heaters:
– They should have the certification of an independent testing laboratory.
– Keep them 3 feet away from anything that can burn, such as paper, clothing and rugs.
– Plug them directly into a wall outlet – not an exdtension cord or power strip, which could overload and result in a fire.
– Don’t plug any other electrical device into the same outlet as the heater.
– They should be turned off and unplugged at the end of the work day or whenever you leave the room.
– Keep them out of high traffic areas and doorways, where they might pose a tripping problem.
– Employers should have a specific policy regarding space heaters, and educate employees about safe heater practices.

Little Sparkie Electric Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Neither a volatile economy nor a pandemic has hampered the growth of Little Sparkie Electric, LLC. Catherine Nazarene, managing member and a working licensed Maryland and Virginia Master Electrician, has built her successful business by focusing on hard work, excellent service, and diversifying her service offerings.

Although she launched her Mt. Airy-based business on January 1, 2007 as the Great Recession was hitting, her first paying job came just two days later.  The business has steadily grown ever since, and this past year Little Sparkie Electric was again among the Top Five Finalists in the Frederick News Post’s “Best of the Best” contest in the Electricians category.

Nazarene’s husband, John, also works in the business; they also employ a secretary/bookkeeper, Carla McRorie, a part-time electrician, Vic Weinberg, and a generator maintenance technician, Stewart Lentz.

Growth and Change through the Years

Nazarene also credits membership in the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and other business associations for helping to grow the business. “We really value the resources and referrals the members provide to one another, and we believe association membership has been a key part of our growth these past 15 years. As the saying goes ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ The numerous networking opportunities mean that everybody wins and that is how I like to do life! I like also to have resources to refer to customers and others who need referrals for just about anything. The more I know about what other businesses do, the better I can help those who come to me.”

Little Sparkie Electric works with commercial and industrial businesses, farms, churches and other houses of worship, and residential customers, on a wide variety of projects, and serves customers in Frederick, Carroll, Howard, and Montgomery Counties, along with those in Western and Southern Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

“We offer a full range of electrical and backup power services, but I love challenging situations, where we play detective as we track down and correct electrical issues, ask and answer questions, suggest and implement solutions,” noted Nazarene.

One of her long-time customers, Chuck Wade Sod Farm, testified to her skills: 

“The largest project Catherine did for us at the Chuck Wade Sod Farm was lighting and an exterior fan for a new outdoor patio project. To do the project, she needed to run the conduit through the basement foundation to the patio,” explained Kris Wade.

“It was a complicated job – it took a lot of endurance, and it took her two or three days – but she accomplished the job. Catherine doesn’t care about the difficulty factor – she’ll tackle any job and do it properly.

“And she’s always prompt, which you can’t say about all contractors,” Wade added.

Installing and servicing Generac generators has also been an area of steady growth through the years. “Many electricians don’t work on generators, and many generators are not installed by electrical contractors,” explained Nazarene. “Generators are as mechanical as they are electrical. They’re often likened to cars or trucks without wheels,” she added.

Nazarene recently took courses to renew her Generac Commercial Level II technician certification, which means the business is factory authorized to sell, install and service large commercial generators and residential systems that have a rating up to 150 kW.

Another change the business has seen in the last 15 years is an increase in regulations. “We’re in the sixth National Electrical Code cycle since we started in the business!” said Nazarene. There are many reasons for the proliferation of regulations,  most of which are about safety, the main focus of the NEC. Alternative energy is a big one. “Articles in the Code now take into consideration solar and wind power, energy storage and fuel cells, and specialized batteries for electric vehicles. We’ve installed charging stations and wired solar photovoltaic, aka PV, installations as well.  In fact, we are installing a lot more electric vehicle (EV) chargers than ever before,” she noted.

Other changes in the past five years include:

  • LED lighting for productivity at work, in healthcare and assisted-living settings, and for virus and bacteria control.
  • Since the virus panic hit in March 2020, we have seen an increase in home-office projects, residential remodeling projects, and service work of all types. Commercial work has been making a comeback though, as new businesses are born and existing ones recover.
  • Supply chain disruptions are no secret to anyone, they have been and continue to be a challenge to us, but we rise to meet them as we do any other challenge.

We feel very blessed to have so many wonderful customers who put their trust in us and our skills. We concentrate as always on improving those skills, keeping up with the latest tools and materials which are constantly evolving, and above all we continue to listen to our customers and offer solutions to their needs. In the years to come, I only see the human factor increasing as technology continues to develop.

We don’t really leverage technology, we leave that to the larger contracting firms. Instead, we focus on face-to-face contact, listening to our customers (!), and human interaction – when all is said and done, technology has its place, but we deal with people, and all of our customers are just that, PEOPLE. I have a strong feeling that they appreciate our sincere interest in them as human beings and our responsiveness to their questions and concerns. We love what we do, have fun on the job, and our customers often remark on this to us.

I’ve never stopped being optimistic about our future and have no fears at all. We will be able to meet whatever the economy and fate in general throws our way. Hard work and faith in God will carry us as we carry ourselves.

common lighting issues

3 Common Electrical Lighting Problems & What to do About Them

Here are some common household and business electrical lighting problems that can potentially cause fires.

1. Light switches that don’t work correctly.

Poor workmanship or substandard products can contribute to dimmer switches that don’tlight switch adjust light level properly.

If you’ve just moved into a new house and find switches that don’t seem to activate anything it could be a sign the switches have been superseded and fixtures removed, a switched receptacle or a problem in the outlet, circuit or wiring. It can also mean that a ceiling box is prewired for a fan.

Wiring issues can be dangerous, so if you’re not sure, call a licensed electrician.

2. Lights that are too bright or too dim.

There are several probable causes for these issues.  You may have different types of lights with different wattages; check to see that all light bulbs are the same. The second issue could be a bad neutral connection in the affected circuit, which will continue to cause problems until it’s fixed by a licensed professional electrician.

3.  Recessed lights that go out and come back on.

Recessed lighting is equipped with safety devices that cut out power to the light when it gets too hot.   If so, chances are you’re either using a bulb of too-high wattage, there’s a loose connection, or the insulation in the ceiling is too close to the bulb.

Safety is number One!  It’s always best to work with a licensed, experienced electrician.  Call us or use the contact form for all of your electrical needs.